Quick novel progress update

I’ve got 11 more scenes left to write for my middle-grade fantasy novel. (Browsing the bookstore today, I concluded that my book is definitely more for the 7-13 year old audience than the teen audience. The main character is twelve years old, and I think the worst thing that happens to him is him getting kicked in the mouth in an early chapter. No violence any worse than that, and no real romance. No teen angst. (Well, Thravien has some angst, but I don’t think it’s exactly “teen” related.) So middle-grade it is.) I’m at about 60K, which might already be too long for a middle-grade fantasy, but I know I’ll be cutting stuff in my first revision, so I’ll worry about it then. Getting closer and closer… hope to finish the first draft in the next few weeks, or at least before the end of the month; there’s really no excuse for not finishing before then unless something really unexpected comes up.

Peering over the Cliffs of Insanity

I will confess: my Animation Mentor classes have not been going well. They haven’t been going awfully, but my work is struggling. I’ve been in an anxious panic mode lately because I’m afraid my work is not going to be nearly good enough to send out to studios. But anxious panic mode only makes the work worse; it makes me work slower and more anxiously. It makes animating anything an awful tedious chore, when it should be fun and interesting. While animating, my mind focuses on other things I’d like to do: watch a movie, play a game, compose music, work on my novel, work on my cartoon series pitch, work on my melody generator, etc. Things I just hardly have any time to do… and when I do have time to do them, I do them knowing I’m eating into animation time.

I won’t complain too much about my job; it’s provided me the money for tuition to learn animation in first place. But it’s the sort of job that can really drive you mad because you can’t really concentrate on anything. And I think most human minds cherish the ability to concentrate on something; to really get lost in a project. Even mopping a floor is a nicer job when your thoughts don’t have to be interrupted every ten seconds. And having your thoughts consistently interrupted mentally wears you down, so you don’t have as much drive or energy to do anything later on when you do have time. It would also be nice if I had more regular hours. As it is now, I can’t get into any sort of routine. It’s mornings these days, evenings these days, weekends these days. Blagh!

And then there’s the Animation Mentor graduation in California. Part of me thinks it would still be fun to go, but another part of me isn’t sure it’s worth the trouble, time, and money. I have yet to get to know any classmates as well as I would like; certainly not enough for a trip out to California to seem like something I must do. I’d rather save my money and try to get a pitch meeting for my cartoon series idea…

Anyway, fortunately, so I don’t completely fail out of Animation Mentor and/or go completely insane, I’ll be taking a leave-of-absence for at least a month and a half (maybe more?), starting two weeks from today. I can’t wait to have all that extra time to put into animation and polishing my shots. And hopefully the time and energy to pursue my other creative endeavors.

While I look forward to the leave, it makes these last two weeks of work complete torture. It’s like the last days of school before summer vacation — the mind can concentrate on little else besides the presumed luxury of the impending freedom.

In other news, I rewrote my novelette from 2009 called Dreamgiver, which is now out on submission.

I also caught site of this: Strange Chemistry Open Door 2012. A pro publisher accepting submissions from unagented authors? Definitely looks interesting. They’ll be accepting submissions during the last half of April 2012. So last week I posted on Facebook a request for first readers and sent the first half of my novel-in-progress Moonrise Ink out to five or six friends. My hope is to use their feedback to help me finish the book, then rewrite the portions of it that will need rewriting, and I’m pretty confident I’ll have a draft finished by April so that I can try submitting it. That doesn’t leave as much time for editing as I would like, but I think it may still be worth a shot.

Novel progress

My YA fantasy novel finally passed the 50K word mark yesterday. Not much of an accomplishment for professional writers, but this is only the third time I’ve ever gotten this far, and the first time I’ve gotten this far while sticking very close to my original outline.

One of my previous stories to get this far was The Game of Gynwig, in which I veered way way way off my outline and the story turned into a complete mess. It was also horribly written, but looking back on it provides a good laugh. It was about a young boy who gets wrapped up with a group of wizards and witches who fight to oppose an evil wizard’s plot to take over the kingdom. I still like the characters and original story I meant to tell, so I might revisit someday. But no time soon. It has to be completely replotted.

My next attempt that passed 50K words was The Book of Harbringer, my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. It was about a banished prince who returns to his kingdom to oust an evil king. Very Lion King-esque, but much darker. It was completely outlined and I stuck to the outline. Unfortunately it was just too long and complex. After 50K words, the story had still barely started. I had something like nine characters, and I was spending a lot of time introducing them all. It might still work with all its complexity, but it was just too much for me to tackle as a first novel. I still really like the characters and the story I meant to tell, so I’d love to revisit this someday. But I think I’ll need more experience first.

Third time’s a charm, I hope. This time I kept my outline much simpler and have made it a point to stick to it. My current attempt is called Moonrise Ink, and it’s about a boy who learns that he is the last wizard in the world and must use his powers to defeat a group of mysterious invaders. It actually takes place in the same world as those of the last two attempts, though I’ve edited the magic system a bit. There are references to names and places and magical items in those stories.

I’m not sure how much longer it will take to write this draft. My current guess is that 20K more words will do it, but it may be more. But I think I’m definitely more than half way there.